Network security vendor Check Point Software announced that it has teamed up with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to secure cloud computing with its firewalls and other software-based security products. Check Point’s Virtual Appliance for AWS will include intrusion prevention, virtual firewall and filtering capabilities. Enterprises that already use Check Point security products internally will be able to expand that security infrastructure into the Amazon cloud with virtual instances of Check Point security products.
“Customers can now extend their security from the enterprise to the cloud, with the same policy and protections in the cloud," said Fred Kost, head of product marketing at Check Point. "This will ease security deployment and provide the ability to have existing security policies extend into the cloud.”
While Check Point’s initial cloud offering is aimed at AWS customers, the company claims that other cloud providers could easily offer the same solution to their customers. And because the capabilities deployed in the Amazon cloud are by design the same as those in Check Point’s on-premises enterprise products, customers can manage all of their security functions centrally from a common console for both the cloud and the on-premises network.
Many customers still unsure of their cloud security strategy will find the prospect of increased continuity in secure cloud computing management appealing, according to Paul Nelis, principal at technology consulting group Maven Wave Partners.
While there are some physical-level differences between the AWS implementation of Check Point's gateway and the gateways customers would deploy within their own data centers, “the upper-level functionality of the product, like the management interface for specific services … will all look the same to an administrator, whether they're protecting resources in AWS or within their own four walls,” said Nelis. “It creates that kind of continuity and that tight bond between the cloud resources and the customers in the network.”
Secure cloud computing: Beyond virtual network security solutions
Traditionally, network security has been a hardware-based, on-premises technology for enterprises. Many security vendors rely on hardware to differentiate themselves from the competition, but Check Point and several other vendors take a software-based approach that offers cloud providers the ability to deploy virtual network security products for customers.
Enterprises perceive a great deal of risk when building a secure cloud and during migration, depending on the business and the type of infrastructure they are moving into the cloud. Cloud providers can earn customer loyalty, or “stickiness,” by offering secure cloud computing as a differentiator, according to Lauren Robinette, principal analyst with ACG Research.
While the approach to secure cloud computing that Amazon and Check Point are taking will offer continuity of management for customers, Robinette said that AWS remains a platform for small and midsized businesses (SMBs). The secure cloud computing needs of an enterprise differ from SMBs, she said.
“Cloud providers are struggling to meet the security needs of an enterprise’s cloud-based infrastructure -- there is still a gap,” she said.
It’s all about cloud data protection and encryption, said Mo Khalid, CTO of the technology consulting firm Nephos6. Customers are going to be looking for a cloud provider that can provide not only cloud computing, but managed security services on top of it.
While a company's needs will depend on its portfolio and what it is looking for in terms of security, most customers will be looking for “a top-down, complete plethora of services, including firewalls, antivirus, secured access control, data management and compliance, if the data has to be regulated," said Khalid.
Khalid said Rackspace, Verizon and AT&T, known for their strong managed security services portfolios, are positioned to offer secure cloud computing to enterprises. “These vendors can easily provide security services on top of their cloud services,” he said.
Traditional providers with carrier-grade connectivity will best be able to satisfy the secure cloud computing needs associated with enterprise-grade business, Robinette said.
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